The International Geophysical Year beginning on 1st July, 1958 and lasting until 31st December, 1958 had its antecedent in the International Polar Year of 1882 and 1883. Similar scientific activities took place from 1902 to 1903, but greater co-operative research began with the Second International Polar Year of 1932 and 1933. These projects centred in the Polar regions of the world as their names suggested. The Third International Polar Year with the name changed to the International Geophysical Year, or the I.G.Y., incorporated studies of the universe in all parts of the world.
Some sixty-one nations participated; more than twenty-five countries or stamp-issuing states marked the I.G.Y. with postal issues, cachets, or special postmarks. Canada had an extensive interest in the I.G.Y. activities owing to the location of the North Magnetic Pole in the Canadian Arctic, and to the Maximum Auroral Belt crossing Canada.
This Canadian postal issue contributes additional suggestions of the studies that scientists have made of the universe. The microscope in a solid blue emphasizes scientific study. In lighter tones the background includes the Polar Zenithal projection of the world featuring North America.
This stamp contains the designer's initial in the bottom-right corner near the base of the microscope. The initial P belongs to Alan L. Pollock.